by Dora Jeler, ITTF High Performance and Development Operations Manager
The Hopes Programme will extend from its current format to a two year cycle, enabling players to experience a seamless pathway from Hopes to advanced, performance centered activities.
In the first year, Hopes players will enter the programme through their national, regional and continental pathways. The pinnacle of the Hopes Programme remains the ITTF World Hopes Week and Challenge, which brings the first year to a conclusion.
From the World Hopes, a minimum of six boys and six girls will be selected to continue further within the Hopes Programme, attending a selection camp in the second year of the cycle, from which the Hopes Team will be selected. The Hopes Team will be open to under 13 age group players, therefore closing the gap further between Talent Identification and High Performance.
Following the Hopes Programme, players will be offered new opportunities with the expanded selection of High Performance Camps aimed at the under 15, under 18 and under 21 age groups. The new training camps will give participants the opportunity to combine intensive training with participation at various international tournaments. For under 15 and under 18 players, camps will be run in connection with potential participation in one of the ITTF World Junior Circuit events; under 21 players will be able to combine their training with an ITTF Challenge or Challenge Plus tournament.
The new initiative starts this week with an Under 21 High Performance Training Camp in Portugal’s Vila Nova de Gaia, after which participants will attend the ITTF Challenge Plus event in Lisbon. Later in the year, players of the same age group will have another opportunity to train together in a similar environment.
Meanwhile, for selected under 15 and under 18 players, there will be two combined training camps, invitations and prospectus for the first one to be held in Formia, Italy for ten days in March already having been released. In addition to these combined camps, two individual camps for under 15 and under 18 players respectively will be offered in the second half of 2019.
All training camps on the programme have at their centre the presence of both players and coaches, underlining the importance of a close collaboration between the ITTF and national associations.
Furthermore, all training camps will be managed by ITTF experts in collaboration with the hosting national associations.